Monitoring children is proving a ‘serious challenge’ for social workers

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A social worker has warned that the ongoing monitoring of children named on Tusla’s Child Protection Notification System is proving “a serious challenge” amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cork-based John Finn, writing in the ‘Irish Social Work’ blog, also said of the current outbreak: “Many foster placements will come under serious pressure during this crisis and, unfortunately, some will break down.”

The Child and Family Agency has outlined a range of measures aimed at allowing social workers to maintain vital contact with children in different care settings, including those who are deemed most vulnerable. It has asked anyone with concerns about a child to contact a local social work office by visiting tusla.ie/get-in-touch.

In the blog post, Mr Finn outlined the benefits of social workers assisting foster carers and families to facilitate children keeping in contact with their parents using smartphones, as well as methods through which “appropriate boundaries” can be maintained.

However, he said: “No social worker had time to prepare strategies around keeping children safe to the greatest degree possible and minimising the upset and disruption caused to the children we work with.

“Social workers in child protection have had to adapt their practice to a dramatically different set of circumstances that present obvious problems, as well as many unforeseen ones.

“Both Family Welfare and Child Protection Conferencing have faced serious disruptions, and new technologies are already being utilised to fulfil obligations in cases where there is deemed to be a child at significant risk,” he wrote.

“Ongoing monitoring of children who are named on the Child Protection Notification System is proving a serious challenge for social workers.

“In order to carry out essential home visits, personal protective equipment needs to be utilised for the safety of the worker and the service users. Working in such a manner is an alien experience to social workers and presents a barrier to meaningful engagement.”

The blog also referred to the likely “onerous backlogs of cases waiting to be reviewed in court in late 2020 and early 2021” due to current restrictions, which could mean social workers “spending dramatically increased lengths of time writing court reports and many days spent in court waiting for cases to be heard”.

Read the blog at irishsocialwork.wordpress.com



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